Clothes count for first impressions

At every agewomen had a traditional set of clothes.

Usually, for girls before puberty (13-15 years) the only clothing was a long shirt of white (natural) color. Older girls already started to wear skirts (“podol” in the south of Russia).

There were differences between the clothing of young women, married women and older women. Clothing of older women had fewer ornaments and was made in darker tones.

Old people in everyday, not decorated clothes (1910)

Old people in everyday, not decorated clothes (1910) / Russian folk costume / L. Molotova, N. Sosnina

In addition, decorations on the clothing said a lot about the prosperity of its owner. Some well-off peasants used expensive purchased fabric and trimmed their clothes with fur and natural pearls.

Headwear of Russian girls

Wreaths and headbandswere must-have headwear for girls, leaving open a crown area of the head.

Girl in front of a mirror (1848)

Girl in front of a mirror (1848) / Philip Budkin

For the wedding a young woman wore a special wreath – “koruna” (very similar word to the “crown”).

Girls especially loved a variety of accessories, for example, “koschnik” that were woven into braids, various belt accessories, earrings and so on.

Headwear of married Russian women

Hair was considered to have magical powers. And it could be used to harm women and children. In order to avoid any misfortune, the hair should be carefully hidden.

Therefore headwear of married women – soroka, kokoshnik, fully covered the hair.

In Russian costumes (1907)

In Russian costumes. Staged photo. Murom. 1907

Traditional Russian footwear

Shoes the same as outerwear was the same for men and women.

The most common shoes were lapti. They were made of birch bark using special Russian wickerwork. Lapti were worn all year round. Their soles were reinforced with hemp rope. Inside of lapti peasants wore onuchi (rectangular cloth of different kind depending on the season), that were held together using special ropes.

Along with lapti, people also wore leather shoes – porshni, koty, boots. Under them in the winter they wore woolen stockings or socks. Unlike lapti, leather footwear for men and women had different styles.

Today, the standard of beauty is considered to be an elegant lady’s leg. In the old days monumentalitywas considered beautiful – girls purposely wore several pairs of wool stockings to make an impression.

In winter Russians wore felt boots – valenki, and in the north – shoes made ​​of fur.

On the streets of big Russian cities today you may see clothing items made by famous designers that were inspired by Russian national costume. Common Russian people gladly wear traditional Russian clothes during numerous ethnographic festivals, some fans wear it also at home, and in remote locations in Russiatraditional clothes are taken out of the trunks for holidays and special events.


This article contains some of the materials from the book “Russian folk costume” / L. Molotova, N. Sosnina N. (1984)

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